Chalk paint is a thick, decorative coating that’s easy to apply and can be used on almost any substrate. It dries with a matte finish and is easy to manipulate to create a distressed, vintage appearance.
This type of paint is very popular for use on furniture, especially old pieces that are no longer attractive due to the abuses of aging. Chalk paint covers, conceals, and transforms very effectively.
We’ll keep it fast, fun, and relevant, and soon, you will understand more about chalk paint than most other people will ever know.
So, are you prepared?
Good, me too. OK, here we go!
Should You Use Primer with Chalk Paint?
One of the best features of chalk paint is that, in most cases, it does not require you to apply a coat of primer before painting with it. It is very viscous. This pigment-heavy paint self-primes, most times.
If the target surface is seriously damaged or uneven, it might need some initial patching and sanding. If the surface is highly glossed, it may need a coat of primer and some light sanding to ensure adhesion.
Finally, cedar, mahogany, redwood, and fir contain high amounts of tannins, which are water-soluble polyphenols that can bleed through paint and cause yellowing. These woods should be primed before chalk painting.
However, most generally, your workpiece WILL NOT need to be primed before painting. You just make sure it’s clean and dry, and put chalk paint right over it without applying any type of primer.
Preparing Substrates for Chalk Painting
One of the most attractive characteristics of chalk paint is that it can be applied to almost anything and achieve aesthetic, long-lasting results. You can apply chalk paint to:
- Bare and finished wood
- Ceramic tile
Note that since chalk paint is water-based, it might cause bare metal to rust. Plus, it can cause the glue in wallpaper to reactivate and cause the paper to peel off the wall.
How to Apply Chalk Paint
Chalk paint is simple to apply. Small items, like jewelry boxes, can be painted using a brush. Special round chalk paint brushes are available and will yield superior results relative to standard brushes.
Also, avoid using brushes that were specially made for use with oil-based stains and paints.
In general, a standard 2 ½-inch brush intended for use with latex paint will do well for applying chalk paint. Just brush a generous coat on your workpiece, and then allow it to dry for 2 – 4 hours. Ensure excellent ventilation and circulation to minimize drying times.
If a second coat is needed, apply it meticulously, and then allow it to dry thoroughly for at least 24 hours before applying sealer wax. The chalk paint will continue curing for as long as 30 days, at which point, it will be very hard and ready to perform for years and years.
If you have larger workpieces, like a full set of kitchen cabinets, either an airless or a high-velocity, low-pressure (HVLP) paint sprayer will work much better. Sprayers distribute the chalk paint evenly, significantly decreasing your odds for drips and runs.
How Many Coats of Chalk Paint Are Needed?
Because chalk paint is made especially for concealing imperfections without prep work, in many cases, only one coat is needed to achieve excellent coverage. However, it’s a case-by-case situation, and you’ll have to determine if a second coat is needed after waiting for the first to dry for a few hours.
Sanding in Between Coats of Chalk Paint
If you notice any runs or other anomalies with your first coat of chalk paint, it’s smart to lightly sand them away before applying a second coat.
Also, it’s always a good idea to lightly sand workpieces in between coats of paint. It’s just that, with chalk paint, it isn’t typically mandatory as it is with other coating types.
So, yes, you CAN sand chalk paint in between coats to achieve better results, but it isn’t necessary as far as ensuring adequate adhesion like it is with latex and other paint types.
Distressing Chalk Paint
Distressing refers to the process of removing some chalk paint, here and there on the workpiece, to create the appearance of aging and usage. The goal is to make the piece look like some of its paint has naturally worn away over time.
There are no rules for distressing. You can do it on a whim and express the vision in your mind. Some key areas to consider distressing include around knobs and handles, and along edges and corners.
It’s also effective to distress a few random spots on the workpiece just to add in some unpredictability.
A little distressing goes a long way. When distressing chalk paint, try to make the workpiece look like it aged gracefully while sitting in a protected location for many years. In other words, don’t distress it so much that it looks like it just fell from the back of a pick-up truck!
If you plan ahead for the spots on your workpiece that need distressing, then you can rub a little petroleum jelly on those spots. The paint won’t be able to effectively adhere in those spots. That way, the chalk paint will be much easier to remove in the areas you intend to distress.
Sealing Chalk Paint with Wax
Sealant wax for chalk paint is easy to apply. Just use a clean, lint-free cloth to spread it over the entire surface area of the workpiece. Be sure to wipe away all excess wax, and then allow it to set up as per the product’s instructions.
That’s it. You just wipe it on and wipe off the excess. Wax on. Wax off!
And if you are distressing the workpiece, remember to do so BEFORE you apply the wax.
Why Is Chalk Paint More Expensive Than Regular Paint?
It’s true that chalk paint tends to cost more than other types of paint. However, that price difference is offset by the fact that there’s typically no need for priming before painting.
You not only save money by not having to purchase a quality primer, but also by not having to apply the primer, which saves time and energy. Plus, chalk paint doesn’t normally need sanding in between coats, saving you more time.
My Closing Thoughts About Using Primer with Chalk Paint
Chalk paint is definitely popular, especially among DIYers who enjoy transforming old pieces of furniture. Few methods are more impressive at making major appearance changes with such little investment and effort.
However, it’s good to remember that chalk paint only has one finish sheen level, a creamy, yet flat matte finish. There are some waxes available that can add a sheen, but I’m not sure it makes sense to use them in most cases.
If you want an eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, or high-gloss finish, it’s probably smarter to use a different type of paint to begin with. Less costly too.
Well, here we are. I’m betting that you know more about chalk paint, now, than about 90% of the world. Congratulations!
Thanks so much for reading along today, and I hope that the information has been helpful and instructive. Chalk paint is definitely fun to experiment with, and can become addicting.
Enjoy the Paint!